A Marine mother's request on 9/11: Remember the fallen, every day
The day is Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that plunged this country into war. It is a day of remembrance and grieving.
For Dianne Layfield of Fremont in Northern California, every day is like that.
Her son, Lance Cpl. Travis Layfield, was killed in Ramadi, Iraq, in April 2004. He was 19.
That September, Layfield came to Camp Pendleton to greet the returning Marines from her son’s battalion. It was a painful but necessary experience, she said.
She wore a T-shirt bearing her son’s name and picture. Three other parents also wore T-shirts with likenesses of their dead sons.
Seven years later, Layfield talks about her son every day, lest his memory disappear.
She is active in Gold Star Mothers and other organizations that support the families of military members who have died. She helped produce a video about her son's life and sponsors an annual golf tournament in his name.
"I'm Travis' voice now," she said. "I don't want any of them to be forgotten. Each day is a battle. We cry every day. The day I stop talking about him, he’ll be gone.”
As of Sunday morning, 4,474 U.S. service personnel have been killed in Iraq and 1,762 in Afghanistan, according to the independent website www.icasualties.org. The Afghanistan figure does not include three members of the Oklahoma National Guard whose deaths were reported Sunday.
Layfield was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton. Camp Pendleton has had 345 Marines and sailors killed in Iraq, second only to the Army's Fort Hood, which has lost 506. The Marine base at Twentynine Palms has lost 115.
On this 10-year anniversary, Dianne Layfield hopes the nation remembers those killed in the terrorist attacks and also those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"There are families in this country who are hurting," she said.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Dianne Layfield watches as her daughter, Tiffany Hicks, hugs a Marine from her son's battalion as it returns to Camp Pendleton in September 2004. Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times